Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Bingo Britain: Osborne & Alexander's Patronising Pranks

The Budget has provided few surprises: other than the long trailed rise in the tax threshold to £10,500 after 4 years of austerity and pay decreases, the main thrust is to provide tax breaks for people with money. ISA thresholds are raised from £10,000 to £15,000, while pensioners will be able to take pots of cash out of their annuities, begging the question of what sort of support will be there for those who, longer term, will end up with significantly reduced incomes.

But this is an economy whose much touted "recovery" from the 2008 recession has been stymied by the record levels of inequality - just this week, Oxfam revealed that the five wealthiest people in Britain own more wealth than the poorest 12 million put together. While average wages have declined by over 10% in the last 5 years, the richest have actually become phenomenally better off. However, as they tend not to spend a lot of their money, tying it up instead in property or other savings, this has done nothing to stimulate the flat-lining economy.

What recovery there has been has been fuelled by rising personal debt and, bizarrely, the huge one-off payments for mis-sold PPI policies - the latter alone have pumped a temporary boost of around £3,000 million into the UK economy. As this wave subsides, it seems the "liberalising" of pension pots is hoped to provide a further boost to keep things going, regardless of the longer term consequences for the individuals concerned.

So where do the Tories' Osbonre and Lib Dems' Alexander hope they will spend their money? Well, in a breathtaking display of patronising arrogance, the Coalition has cut duties on bingo halls by even more than bingo companies were asking for after the owners said they would pass a lot of any cut on to their customers in increased prizes.

Yes, that's right: the Government wants to get people out to the bingo to keep Britain working. And at the same time, they've also given tax breaks to the drinks industry (which just happens to feature significantly among donors to the Tories).

So this is the future for our battered country. Benefits are to be capped regardless of need: but tax breaks are given to alcohol and gambling. Marx called it the opiate of the masses, the bread-and-circuses deployed by the ruling classes to numb the senses of the masses and blunt calls for genuine change.

It is a tried and tested formula, but, in the past, our rulers did not act just quite so brazenly as this lot do. And leading the charge, taking any rational person's breath away, is Tory Chair, Grant Shapps MP, who makes no bones about this attempt to desensitise the toiling masses with elusive promises of random riches and a booze-filled twightlight.

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